Three-quarters of employees’ careers impacted by mental health, report finds

But workers are not getting sufficient support, with experts calling on firms to upskill managers to support staff wellbeing

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Three-quarters of employees say their mental health is impacting their career, research reveals, but a third do not expect support at work.

In the survey of 400 UK-based workers at large businesses, carried out by Unmind, 74 per cent said mental health had impacted their career; however, 32 per cent said they did not expect any mental health support at work.

Nearly three in five (59 per cent) also said they found it hard to fit mental health and self-care practices into their day, with almost two in five (37 per cent) noting a lack of time as the reason behind this.

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Unmind said a lack of sleep, work-related stress and anxiety were cited as the top three blockers to better managing mental health. But the survey indicated that staff were having to help each other to manage mental health.

Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of workers felt they were responsible for supporting their colleagues’ mental wellbeing at work, but only 55 per cent said they actually felt confident doing this.

Commenting on the findings, Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, said businesses needed to invest in mental health and wellbeing support to both encourage personal and organisational growth and to attract and retain talent in the future.

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“Organisations claim that people are their most critical assets, but they must do more to enable their people to perform at their very best,” she said.

The survey revealed that two in five (40 per cent) find mental health and wellbeing confusing, while half (51 per cent) of respondents said the mental health culture at an organisation has affected their decision to join or stay.

Ngozi Weller, director of Aurora Wellness, said the findings of the survey were unsurprising. Research conducted by her own company found more than 80 per cent of organisations know mental health is an important thing they need to focus on, but only 51 per cent are doing anything strategic about it.

She criticised businesses for too often taking a tick-box approach to mental health, referencing a satirical TikTok video in which an HR professional offers overworked staff a mental health webinar over other more practical suggestions including lowering workloads and providing more holiday.

“That [video], time and time again, is the attitude we are unfortunately seeing in organisations,” she said. “I understand that firms are under pressure to invest in almost every area of the business, but organisations are lagging behind.”

Weller said managers needed to be taught to “normalise the conversation about mental health and wellbeing, genuinely manage their employees, and support them with their mental health through signposting”.

Dr Sofia Gerbase, clinical psychologist at Unmind, echoed the need to upskill business leaders who, she said, had a responsibility in setting the tone to drive a mentally healthy culture.

She explained that training could help leaders to better understand and support employees who are experiencing stress and anxiety, and better role model healthy behaviours. “Once organisations prioritise mental health – focusing on work systems, structures and staff through a top-down, whole-organisation approach – real change can happen,” she said.